Bikram yoga mogul loses sexual harassment lawsuit from former employee

New York Daily News/January 26, 2016

By Nancy Dillon

Hot yoga mogul Bikram Choudhury had reason to sweat a sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit by a former employee.

On Monday, a Los Angeles jury hearing the case awarded the employee $924,500 in compensatory damages after returning a unanimous verdict in her favor.

The hearing that could award punitive damages to plaintiff Minakshi Jafa-Bodden begins Tuesday.

Jafa-Bodden - a lawyer who moved from India with her young daughter to work for Choudhury in 2011 - filed her claim in 2013 saying the yoga guru acted inappropriately around her and then fired her when she began investigating allegations of sexual abuse from other women.

"We think the jury's verdict is a tremendous vindication of all of Ms. Bodden's efforts to stop this abusive and harassing conduct not just towards herself but to numerous other women who have attempted to stand up to Bikram Choudhury," lawyer Carla Minnard said in a statement to the Daily News.

"She stood up for what was right at great personal risk to herself and her daughter, both of whom were threatened by Bikram Choudhury with being deported and killed," Minnard said.

"The truth is finally out about an abusive tyrant who has engaged in despicable conduct towards women for a very long time," she said.

Choudhury, 69, is famous for popularizing his eponymous sweat lodge-style yoga system.

Bikram yoga typically uses a 26-pose routine in a room heated to 100 degrees or more.

The once high-flying teacher also is facing lawsuits by several other women who claim he sexually assaulted or raped them.

Chodhury's lawyers say their client is innocent and that prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges in connection with the women's claims.

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